Brush pen, brush marker: Here are some tips

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This versatile artist’s tool is great for the beauty that is created by a calligrapher's hand, the drama from a perfectly inked comic book page, the instant impression from a quick sketch, and so much more. Each brush pen or brush marker will serve different needs and creative visions. 

Brush pens are perfect as a portable, cleaner, more convenient alternative to a bottle of ink and brush. When an artist reaches for a brush to ink, it needs to produce a variety of line weights from thin to thick determined by the pressure applied. This quality of line needs to be achieved with the brush pen for it to be a viable replacement or addition to the artist’s tools. Alternatively, they may be used for coloring, using the fine point to color in small areas, or covering large areas with the side of the brush.

Pentel Sign Pen

Pentel Sign Pen

Prismacolor Premier

Prismacolor Premier

Winsor & Newton Water Colour

Winsor & Newton Water Colour

Pentel Pocket Brush

Pentel Pocket Brush

Brush Pen Tip Material

Having used many different brush pens I’ve noticed 2 distinct types: solid flexible tips and tips with individual bristles.

Solid fiber tip brush pens

These tips are made of nylon, felt and rubber. The ease of use from the lack of individual bristles make these great for all types of creative adventures. 

I’ve noticed some squish and fray more and some are more rubbery, springy, and spongy. The tips breakdown, some quicker than others, depending on how it’s used. I did live caricatures and rotated through a few different pens. Some newer for sharper lines and some worn to create textured broader strokes.

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Natural hair and synthetic bristle tip brush pens

These are made with natural hair or synthetic nylon (plastic) hairs. These to behave the most closely to a brush and ink. I find these great for inking, drawing and fine details as the point is typically finer and holds its shape longer. This most closely mimics a brush and can also create dry brush effects. 

Brush Pen Tip Hardness

Brush pen tips can range from firm to soft. Firm tips can produce good line variation, but require more pressure where as a softer tip allows for a greater degree of line variation, but requires more control. Fiber tips tend to be more firm while bristle tips tend to fall on the softer side. 

Conclusion 

We recommend you try different brush pens  –that’s why we provided several in the August 2019 Surprise– and see which works for you and what you like. In using many different brush pens I’ve noticed some hold their tip longer than others. Some break apart and give a scratchy line. We created a demonstration video featuring the Copic Gasenfude brush pen. 
Brush pens are a fantastic art supply. Their versatility and convenience make them a joy to use. Calligraphy and hand lettering artists (here are some free hand lettering sheets) love the colors and line variations possible. Comic artists love that they aren’t getting ink drops all over their work and urban sketchers love the bold marks that can be easily made onsight without the hassle or mess of an ink bottle.

Join us over on our Facebook page where we can continue this conversation. Have you tried some? Do you have a favorite? What are your thoughts on brush pen vs. brush and ink? We’d love to see some of your work, so please tag us on Instagram @smilecreaterepeat #smilecreaterepeat and we’ll share your brush pen drawings.